According to the Pew Research Center, the best way to spread the word about your business? It’s word of mouth. If you’re looking to do more than capitalize on influencers, though, you’ll need to think bigger.
It’s time for you to start thinking about hiring brand ambassadors.
What is a Brand Ambassador?
Brand ambassadors are the people who represent your brand online to social networks, blog networks, and more. Effectively, they become the digital face of your brand to some degree or another, whether you’re selling a product, hosting an event, or offering a service.
These ambassadors aren’t always celebrities, though. They’re often excited fans or brand advocates who companies have brought into the fold as marketing partners.
Do you want to improve your company’s word of mouth efforts? Want to grassroots your next product? Then building an influencer network will serve you well.
Types of Brand Ambassadors
That said, there are different types of brand ambassadors. Few of them are celebrities, but some may be more technologically savvy than others. You’ll be able to find some of your brand ambassadors among your influencer marketing team, whereas others will come straight from your consumer base. Check out our guide on the different types of influencers your brand can tap into here.
Influencers come in many flavors and industries, but one thing they all have in common is a degree of social media awareness. Influencers have to build their own brands from the ground up, whether that be a food-oriented YouTube channel like Binging With Babish or a pup-oriented Instagram, like Loki the Wolfdog.
When you transform influencers into ambassadors, you’ll be getting creative and unique content that comes straight from these ambitious, creative minds. There will be a clear transactional element to this ambassadorship, but you’ll also be able to reach a consumer audience that ranges into the millions.
Bringing in True Fans
On the other hand, you can bring passionate fans onto your marketing team to really diversify your creative experience. These fans – called “true fans” – stand out from the crowd due to their brand loyalty. They’ll have followed your business through thick and thin, and you’ll be able to rely on their enthusiasm as well as their social media awareness.
Unlike influencers, true fans’ marketing experience will likely be limited, and their scope may not be large. However, true fans are considered authorities on your product within their circles. They can spread their brand loyalty to others without issue. You will have to work to establish boundaries, of course, but with a little guidance, true fans can become assets to your marketing team.
What is an Ambassador Program?
So, with definitions out of the way, what is an ambassador program or influencer network, and how can your company take advantage of one? Ambassador programs are stables for your ambassadors.
Much like how a publisher will have a number of authors she’s working with, your company can have multiple brand ambassadors on duty at one time. As such, you’ll need a program to keep everyone’s posting schedules, content, and pay in order. As a result, an ambassador program is born.
Creating Your Own Influencer Network
It’s more complicated than you might think to build an ambassador program from the ground up. Break the process down step-by-step, though, and you’ll find that the work is well worth doing.
Start With Research
The good news is that you don’t have to do all the work of building an ambassador program yourself. Influencer marketing platforms like Sideqik allow you to research potential influencers, other brand’s campaigns, and potential ambassador metrics, and more.
Look into the work that your competitors are doing and reach out to your industry contacts. How have they brought their influencers together? What kind of networks are they creating? Once you know what other folks are up to, you can start brainstorming ways to break the mold.
Spread the Word
Once you have a basic structure in mind – who are your preferred ambassadors, what channels will they post on, what’s your preferred posting schedule, how is everyone getting compensated – you can start putting the word out about your program. By getting the news circulating around your department and with your boss, you first facilitate internal buy-in. This kind of support is essential if your ambassador program is to succeed.
External conversation about your program will then serve to bring influencers and ambassadors to your door. Note that you don’t have to start taking in folks immediately. Instead, treat this is a testing ground. See who’s interested, who isn’t, and play with the ways you can change your program around.
Sideqik can help you scout out the best influencer for your program and allows them to see information on your brand to make sure you’re a good fit for their audience, as well. Note, too, that this stage of developing your program will require faith in your ROI. Starting a new program rarely pays off immediately, and you’ll need to invest before you see your return.
Keep Your First Team Small
Once you’ve felt out the field, bring on a collective of passionate brand ambassadors. Keep your initial team small, though. Push too big, and you’ll overwhelm your audience and lessen the sincerity of your ambassadors’ messages.
Keeping a collective of 5 to 10 ambassadors who are actively passionate about your product on board, though, will ensure that your growth as a brand and as a program will remain organic,
Focus On “Win-Win” Opportunities
As you begin working with your ambassadors, feel out what it is about working with your brand that they value. What makes them excited about your products or services? Once you’ve identified these hot spots, you can use them to both ramp ambassador excitement and woo long-term loyalty.
For example, swag always sees a high level of positive reception among brand ambassadors, especially in nano- and micro-influencers. Many of them agree to work with you because they love something you produce, and when you share that product with them, you’ll show them that you acknowledge and respect their contributions to your grow.
Make sure, too, to invest in your ambassadors. Don’t think that swag can substitute for pay. These folks are working in advertising, after all, and building up a reputation for profiting off of free labor is a big no-no.
Don’t Seize Up
Acknowledge, too, that while you can dictate when an ambassador posts or how often, you can’t control the content 100% of the time. Your ambassadors need to post naturally or else their tone and purpose are compromised. Let go of your control and trust in your ambassadors. If you’ve chosen the right people, then they’ll do your brand proud.
Always Ask Questions
Finally, as you’re creating your ambassador program, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ll need to tweak the program as it grows, and you can always benefit from outside opinions. Check in with your ambassadors, too, to see if they have suggestions for different ways the program can spread the word about your products or network with other organizations.
You never stop learning, especially in business. Embrace that mindset, and creating a successful ambassador program will be as easy as pie.